Hyannis, Mass. (October 10, 2012) – Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and other conservation groups today filed a brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia detailing Cape Wind’s numerous violations of federal protections for threatened and endangered species – including the imperiled North Atlantic right whale, one of the rarest mammals in the world. This suit charges the project violates three key federal laws – the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Other plaintiffs include the Cetacean Society International, Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, Californians for Renewable Energy, and Three Bays Preservation. This is one of five federal lawsuits facing Cape Wind, a massive industrial project proposed to cover 25 square miles of Nantucket Sound with an array of 130 massive turbines – each stretching taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Today’s brief explains how the mega-project poses serious risks to the right whale, four species of federally-protected sea turtles and several species of migratory birds. It also criticizes the lack of oversight and analysis of the impact of Cape Wind on this critical habitat.
“Nantucket Sound provides critical wildlife habitat to numerous rare species,” said Kyla Bennett of PEER. “Cape Wind would destroy this vital habitat and harm the species that rely on it for feeding, breeding and migration. That’s what makes this project so devastating.”
Nantucket Sound is also one of the world’s largest migratory bird routes – with millions of birds flying through the area each year. Currently there are no reliable estimates about the number of birds that would be killed each year by the project’s massive spinning blades. Environmentalists also worry about the fate of the roseate tern, as Nantucket Sound can host every single breeding adult in the northeast each year.
“Federal courts have been very clear that developers to do not have the right to destroy habitats and threaten endangered animals – even under the guise of renewable energy,” said Dr. Bennett. “Reasonable oversight and restrictions must be put in place to protect the thousands of endangered and threatened animals that would be put at risk due to this project – something that has been completely absent with Cape Wind.”
Nantucket Sound is also home to the right whale, which is so close to the brink of extinction than even the loss of one reproductively mature female could be disastrous. Boat collisions are one of the most serious threats to right whales, and Cape Wind would bring an extra 15,000 to 20,000 vessel trips to the area at high speeds especially dangerous to these animals
“Cape Wind would be disastrous to Nantucket Sound – resulting in serious threats to the marine mammals and birds that rely on this vital habitat,” said Audra Parker, president of the Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound. “This is yet another in a long list of reasons that Cape Wind should not be built in this location.”
Numerous other animal welfare groups have sounded the alarm about the threats to right whales due to increased boat speeds and trips associated with Cape Wind, including the Humane Society, Sierra Club and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
“Make no mistake, Cape Wind is an economic, environmental and safety threat,” added Parker. “But with five strong lawsuits facing Cape Wind as well as significant financial challenges, Cape Wind has no real chance of ever being built.”